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TV Ratings: World Series Crushes ‘Sunday Night Football’ as Cubs Avoid Loss at Home

UPDATED: The Chicago Cubs fought back Sunday night to avoid losing the World Series at Wrigley Field, beating the Cleveland Indians 3-2, and Fox execs likely let out just as big a cheer as Bill Murray at the prospect of at least one more game’s worth of ad revenue. Game 5 of the Chicago-Cleveland Series brought in a massive audience of 23.6 million and a 6.7 in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic in Nielsen’s preliminary ratings.

That’s a 37% improvement over Game 5 of 2015’s New York Mets-Kansas City Royals Series, which was that Series’ final game, as the Royals clinched the title with a 7-2 win. This was the biggest Game 5 audience since the 1997 Florida Marlins-Cleveland Indians World Series (24.2 million).

Game 5 also bested its “Sunday Night Football” competition by a wide margin, the first time a World Series game has done so in head-to-head competition since 2013. NBC’s last-minute Dallas Cowboys win over the Philadelphia Eagles brought in 18 million total viewers and a 6.5 in the demo, and while both of those teams have large fanbases that typically pull in big numbers, it appears they just weren’t enough to stanch the continued bleeding of primetime NFL ratings, particularly against a possible World Series clincher.

The highly anticipated game followed a full day of NFL competition on Fox, starting with yet another bizarre tie between Washington and Cincinnati in London and ending in a tight contest between the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons. Under similar sports conditions in 2015, Fox booked $100 million in ad sales against its NFL and MLB slate just for that day.

This is shaping up to be one of the bigger World Series not involving the Yankees or Red Sox. (Yes, Cardinals fans, your Series also tend to do well.) Through Game 5, the 2016 Series is averaging an audience of 19.3 million and a 5.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic.

Friday’s Game 3 notched a 5.2 rating in the demo and a whopping 19.4 million viewers. Saturday’s Game 4 drew a slightly smaller Nielsen-counted crowd of 16.7 million and a 4.2 in the demo. Games 3 and 4 usually represent the ratings nadir of the Series, unless a sweep is imminent, and yet the numbers for those games were more than 20% higher than last year’s Mets-Royals match-up, and the highest-rated games since the 2009 Yankees-Phillies brawl.

The Cubs go on the road to Cleveland Tuesday to once again attempt to stave off a 109th year of championship drought. Cleveland is looking to clinch the Series at home and end its own 68-year drought.

Elsewhere on the channel guide, in Nielsen’s preliminary ratings:

ABC saw lows for its shows. “Once Upon a Time” fell to a 0.9 and 3.04 million viewers. “Secrets and Lies” and “Quantico” both drew a 0.6 in the demo and audiences of 2.7 million and 2.43 million, respectively.

CBS experienced some football overrun in some non-West Coast markets thanks to a long-running Chargers-Broncos game, so its numbers are subject to a good amount of adjustment once Nielsen’s finals come in later this afternoon. “60 Minutes” drew a 1.3 and 10.34 million viewers. “NCIS: Los Angeles” drew a 1.2 and 9.78 million viewers. “Madam Secretary” came in with a 0.8 and 7.83 million. The 100th episode of “Elementary” drew a 0.6 and 4.98 million.

Friday night:

On CBS, “MacGyver” came in with a 1.0 in the demo and 7.26 million viewers. “Hawaii Five-0” also drew a 1.0 in the demo, and 8.36 million viewers. “Blue Bloods” weighed in with a 1.1 and 8.76 million viewers.

On NBC, “Caught on Camera” drew a 0.6 and 2.73 million viewers. “Dateline” pulled in a 0.9 and 4.32 million viewers.

On ABC, a rerun of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” led into a new “Shark Tank,” which notched a 1.1 in the demo and 4.36 million viewers. “20/20” drew a 0.7 and 3.52 million viewers.

On The CW, “The Vampire Diaries” continued its final season with a stead 0.4 in the demo and 920,000 viewers. “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” notched a 0.2 in the demo and 480,000 viewers.

Saturday night:

The World Series wasn’t the only sport airing. ABC’s telecast of the Florida State-Clemson game drew a 1.4 in the demo and 4.65 million viewers in early Nielsen ratings. NBC’s “SNL” had the week off.

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